Masnada formed part of a strong 11-rider breakaway, also featuring Georg Zimmerman, which went clear in the first 20 kilometers of the 195-kilometer stage and although the peloton limited the gap to three minutes, solid cooperation in the leading group saw the peloton struggle to bring them back.
Inside the final 40 kilometers, and approaching the hilly, technical final, Masnada and Filippo Zana (Bardiani CSF) attacked on the second climb of the day to quickly gain a 50-second advantage over the chase group with Zimmermann while behind, the peloton remained almost three minutes behind.
Masnada and Zana worked well to maintain the gap and forged on towards the finish line before Masnada dropped Zana inside ten kilometers to go in anticipation of the rapidly approaching peloton, which had reduced the gap to one minute.
With the General Classification teams leading the chase behind, Masnada dug deep to hold onto his lead but was unable to fend off the attacks approaching the flamme rouge, where the gradient kicked up to ten percent, with Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) taking the win.
Masnada crossed the line 1’42” down on Cosnefroy after a strong performance in his first race back.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“After yesterday’s disappointing performance, today I wanted to obtain the best result possible! I felt good for the whole day, unfortunately the peloton caught me in last three kilometers which is such a pity because I believed in a victory, also in order to thank the team for the fantastic work done in the last days.
“Georg Zimmermann helped me a lot in today’s breakaway, which took a long time to go clear and was hard to get into. We cooperated very well the whole day and with 40 kilometers from the finish when I attacked, Georg did a great job to buy me as much time as possible.
“I was so excited to be back to the races after four months! I couldn’t wait to pin the number on the jersey and stay with the team. Unfortunately, I hoped to obtain a better result in the General Classification but in yesterday’s queen stage, I wasn’t able to stay with the best! I believe that this race improved my conditions and feelings in view of Milano-Sanremo, in order to help Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin, and ahead of the Critérium du Dauphiné.”
La Route d’Occitanie
Stage 4 Lectoure > Racamadour (195km)
Top 3: Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale), 2. Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo), 3. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama – FDJ)
CCC Team top 3: 50. Josef Cerny, 51, Fausto Masnada, 62. Łukasz Wiśniowski